Fiver Week: A look back

Last week was Fiver Week, where I attempted to get by on only £5 for seven days without resorting to eating beans on toast and sitting in front of the TV all evening. It wasn’t easy at the time, but on reflection lots of good things came out of the experience.

What was difficult?

  • Without a doubt, the hardest part was the social side of things. It felt isolating to have to spend a lot of time at home in the evenings, even though I used free emails, texts, phone minutes, social media and so on. There was also a lack of spontaneity to some extent, as free events are not always easy to come by or conveniently timed, and I had to turn some things down because they cost too much.
  • Not being able to pay my own way when I was out with friends was definitely a source of embarrassment. I don’t like being paid for all the time, and I’ve always had a particular dislike of people who repeatedly sponge off their friends with a sense of entitlement to do so. It’s not clever, and it doesn’t mean you’re special. However, the people who bought me food, tickets and drinks were all people I’ve fed and watered generously in the past, so I shouldn’t feel too bad about it.
  • There was a real sense of dread at the start of the week. I wasn’t looking forward to having my lifestyle severely restricted, and I worried that something would come up unexpectedly to scupper my plans. I wasn’t looking forward to changing lots of different habits either, albeit temporarily, and controlling my behaviour so strictly. You have to sit there with your bad habits and your hang-ups, and you have to deal with them, no distracting yourself or putting it off for later.

The positives

  • I started planning ahead a lot more. It makes you think hard about what’s most important to you, and you start making real plans about how to achieve what you want. There was time specifically set aside to think and to prioritise which might otherwise have been filled with general everyday distractions, missing out on the big picture.
  • Once I’d had a few interesting ideas, there was also time for research to follow on from them. Some of this was as simple as finding out what was going to be on at the cinemas in the next few weeks (fun), or finding out which clothes designers were most likely to be influencing the high street for the next couple of seasons (work). I had some ideas for bigger creative projects too, which will need some new knowledge and skills  to get them off the ground, and have been looking at different courses.
  • Old skills started coming back to me, which really made me smile. It was encouraging to be reminded that I can work quite well on a micro budget, I can make a tasty menu plan and cook nice meals from scratch, I know how to find some of the best free events, I can keep myself occupied when I have no money, I’m good at mending, altering and looking after clothes, and so on.
  • The thrifty chores were things that I did every day to make things better in the long run. Normally I’d do these every now and then, or put them off for months. They turned out to be so much better than I’d thought, and there was a real sense of satisfaction after decluttering, taking things to the charity shop, mending clothes, getting boots and shoes cleaned and polished, getting the garden ready for the end of summer and just generally ticking it all off the to-do list.
  • Having a severe lifestyle change has shocked my brain into being a lot more creative in general, and I’ve started doing more writing for fun, looking at many more creative outputs from other people, and even working on craft projects here and there such as dyeing fabrics and customising things. There is something to be said for a short, sharp shock after all.

Would I do it again? Not in a hurry, but it was a far more interesting experience than I’d expected it to be, and I do feel happier for having tried it out.

Are you trying a fiver week of your own? How is it going for you?

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